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(sĭt`ərn), stringed musical instrument of the guitar family having an oval body, a flat back, and a fretted neck. Its strings, made of wire and varying in number, were plucked. It was first made in the Middle Ages and at that time was usually called citole or sitole. The name cittern was given it in the 16th cent. in England, where, as in all western Europe, it was very popular until the early part of the 18th cent. It has also been called cister, cistre, cithern, cithren, citharen, cetera, cither, cithara, gittern, and sittron.



an ancient plucked stringed instrument. The cittern, which had a pear-shaped body, resembled the modern mandolin; it had four to 12 pairs of metal strings and one treble string. It was common in Germany, Italy, and other Western European countries from the 15th to the early 19th century and was especially popular among the urban population in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The instrument was subsequently supplanted by the guitar. Special types of citterns included the archcittern, the tenor cittern, and the English guitar. The cittern is still played in Spain.


Sachs, C. Handbuch der Musikinstrumentenkunde, 2nd ed. Leipzig [1966]. Pages 205–09.
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According to Mary Chan, the bowed instruments and the flute would play the tune, and the plucked wire-stringed cittern and bandore would 'emphasise the rhythmic basis of the melody and the lute provides virtuoso variations of the melody in the repeated sections'.
Over 30 years on, Mr Sobell has built-up an international reputation and sells hand-made guitars, citterns, mandolins and bouzoukis around the world.
He added: "But I started to sort the problems out when I built my first cittern in 1973.
Before this weekend has come and gone, hundreds of re-enactors will have donned their togas and tabards, chain mail and periwigs, tilted their lances, played their sackbuts and citterns, roasted hoar and rabbit over a spit, polished bayonets, checked field hospitals and come within a musket shot of winning the Battle of Edgehill for King Charles.